Today is the shortest day of the year, which means, we are heading back into summer - it's time to sum up our winter experience in Sicily so far.
When we arrived in the marina in October, we asked Maria what winters would be like. She said it is normally not very cold – minimum of 9 degrees, but it will get very windy. And boy, she wasn’t wrong!
It already started end November with some of the biggest thunderstorms I have ever encountered. In New Zealand we had the occasional 1-2 hour long thunderstorm with 100s of lightnings. I even recall one night in Hannover (the night we left on a school trip) that went on and on with thunder and lightning. But compared to what we had here in Licata, that was nothing. We had 4-5 nights in a row of constant thunderstorms – it would go on for hours. No chance of sleeping with the constant flashes of light and the long, deep rumbles of thunder. When we heard the biggest bang, that made us sit upright in bed, one of the yachts in our marina got struck by lightning, seemingly melting all the electronics on board. 4-5 other yachts had been affected as well: the Swedish boat Sans Peur lost their autopilot (we know how important that is!), the English Grand D’Artangan had troubles with their batteries, etc. Luckily we had no problems – I think what saved us was the fact that we had already lost power a few hours beforehand (due to water in the electric system – not so lucky) and were not connected to the shore power when the yacht (about 6 boats down from us) got hit. Right next to the Hanse 575 that got hit is an Irish boat, Windhover, whose owners already had some bad luck in September, when they, too, got hit by lightning, when anchoring in Lipari (next to a huge tanker)! Sean and Bernie are back in Ireland for winter so Alistair and I checked out Windhover for them and gave it the all clear. Imagine if they had got struck again!!! They, too, were not connected to the shore power.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the whole of the marina lost power for a couple of days and it seems the wifi aerial repeater things were affected too, so there was no wifi since end of November. For cruisers it is quite a nuisance as we need wifi to communicate with our families overseas, arrange flights for visits home, or even work! After 4 weeks I looks like the wifi is back, but now we have Force 9 winds, gusting over 50 knots, which will more than likely kill power and wifi again.
Obviously, with the thunderstorm there comes rain. And we did have our fair share of rain – one night it rained 160mm in 3 hours (http://floodlist.com/europe/italy-floods-licata-sicily-160-mm-rain-3-hours), and the town of Licata was flooded; roads turned into rivers and the parking lot, where my parents parked just days before turned into a swimming pool! (Last 4 fotos of the flooding from http://www.meteoweb.eu - I tried to avoid going out)
Rain and thunderstorms have eased for now, but we still struggle with the gales – especially being on a mono hull doesn’t help with the overall well being… You guys probably know what I mean :)
Stay safe, take care and keep warm - your STN Crew
Follow Alistair and Nicola as they share their experience of traveling around the world.